A colonoscopy is an outpatient diagnostic test that uses a scope to examine the inside of the entire colon and rectum for abnormal cells and growths (polyps) that may cause intestinal bleeding. This procedure requires that patients follow dietary and medication restrictions to be accurate. The aim of the test is to remove precancerous polyps before they develop into colorectal cancer.
For additional information on colonoscopy, visit the American Cancer Society website.
Who should have a colonoscopy?
Based on the recommendations of the American Cancer Society:
- Men and women 50 years of age and older who are at average risk of colorectal cancer should have a colonoscopy once every 10 years. Men and women with a family history of colorectal cancer and should first be screened at age 40 (or at an age that is 10 years younger than the age at which the youngest immediate family member was diagnosed with the disease) and should be screened more often.
- Individuals who have certain intestinal diseases (familial adenomatous polyposis, hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer, chronic ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease) and are at high risk of colorectal cancer should begin screening at even younger ages.
- Men and women who have had polyps or other precancerous tissues removed and those who have had colorectal cancer should only be screened with colonoscopy.
When patients of the Harris Health System (HHS) have a positive FIT result, they are referred to a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy. To help patients understand how to properly prepare for the procedure, the Community Network for Cancer Prevention collaborated with clinical staff of the HHS to develop colonoscopy instruction guides.
Funding for the development and distribution of the colonoscopy instruction guides was provided by the Walmart Foundation and the American Cancer Society. The purpose of the instructional guides is to:
- Increase the proportion of patients who return their fecal immunochemical test to the HHS laboratory staff.
- Increase the proportion of patients who receive a follow-up diagnostic colonoscopy after a positive fecal immunochemical test.
- Increase the proportion of patients diagnosed with CRC in precancerous or early stages of disease.
Printed Instruction Guide
The printed colonoscopy instructional guide is a set of easy-to-read instructions that is given to HHS patients when they are scheduled to undergo a colonoscopy. The guide is written in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese and is designed to help patients properly prepare for the procedure. It explains dietary and drug restrictions, when special medicines required before the test should be taken, what to expect during the procedure, how long the procedure will take, and any physical restrictions after the procedure.
Audio Instruction Guide
The printed colonoscopy instructional guide contains the number for a dedicated phone line (713-798-1121) that patients can call and listen to audiotaped instructions for preparing for a colonoscopy. The audiotaped instructions supplement the printed guide and will be available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Listen for the audiotaped instructions in:
- English: section 1, section 2, section 3, section 4
- Spanish: section 1, section 2, section 3, section 4, section 5
- Vietnamese: section 1, section 2, section 3, section 4, section 5